At this week’s Interpol Drone Expert Summit in Norway, experts from law enforcement, governments, security professionals, academia, airports, tech companies, and more came together to discuss how drone usage can have an impact on public safety and security. While on the ground in Oslo, our Dedrone team waad the opportunity to speak with representatives from all the stakeholders involved as well as exhibit with our partner Axon. The drone security industry is rapidly evolving – and “the journey continues,” as Anders Martinsen’s video wrap-up of the conference puts it.
Drone threats: A global concern
First, the need for counter-UAS (aka counter-drone) technology has matured from an emerging need to a very real global security concern. Not only was there more and higher-level global attendance than in previous iterations of the conference, but also high attendance at two key panels featuring C-UAS. Audiences consisting of law enforcement (local and federal), aviation safety, military, emergency response, classic security service companies, and additional government agencies were all concerned about citizen and critical infrastructure safety.
The results readout on C-UAS testing was one of the most attended panels overall. Featuring speakers from individual vendors, Interpol and the Norwegian police, the panel discussed some of the latest advances in C-UAS technology. With the heavy attendance, it’s obvious that clarity around airspace security capabilities is becoming a priority.
Last year, Interpol conducted a C-UAS testing exercise where 19 vendors were invited to show their capabilities, but only seven fully participated. A redacted form of the report was released at this year’s IDES conference. Although I am not allowed to disclose specific company performance details, what is clear is that some solutions work well to detect, track and identify drones while others do not “work as advertised”. Also, the findings will guide Interpol’s Drone Countermeasure Framework – to be available in 194 different countries around the world – making it clear that this report is just the start of a new emphasis on C-UAS technology in law enforcement.
Second, the report clearly states there are still discrepancies in the counter-drone industry between what is promised and what is realistic to deliver, as UAS Norway notes: “Although the suppliers of C-UAS systems tend to market their products as suitable for any use or application, the reality is that there is a big difference in both requirements and challenges for the different use cases of C-UAS systems.” This reality makes it difficult for law enforcement and other security stakeholders to make confident and efficient decisions. Therefore, the C-UAS industry can really benefit from published capabilities and test results like this Interpol report, which Interpol senior forensics specialist Christopher Church called “a good start” for law enforcement to understand the importance of C-UAS
As we look to the future, I expect Interpol may host another testing opportunity for C-UAS companies soon. Last year’s test was conducted at Oslo Airport Gardermoen. Airports are obviously crucial for C-UAS companies to prove that their technologies work, but they are not the only parts of critical infrastructure that need to be protected from aerial intrusions.
New Era for Warfare
Finally, recent conflicts around the world have demonstrated that drones and therefore C-UAS technologies are now a staple in modern warfare. For example, both commercial and military drones have been used in Ukraine. Keeping up with countering those drones has proven to be a problem for both Russia and Ukraine and basic “solutions” like DJI’s Aeroscope has been proven ineffective for both warfare and “normal” operations against clever pilots who know how to easily evade detection, as well, with many military drones surviving multiple engagements.
This is not the first military engagement to widely use drones, however. Even before Ukraine, analysts were calling this a “new era for warfare,” and progress in drone development has accelerated since then. Consequently, C-UAS technology must be even faster in its developments – and staying abreast of those developments requires a company that is actively engaged with its clients and has the agility and engineering acumen to address the issues.
Ultimately, security professionals concerned about drone security would benefit from attending next year's IDES event. As drones develop, so does C-UAS technology and knowing more about the capabilities of what is available is the first step to building a better security response plan. If you only have one reason to go to next year’s IDES, it’ll be getting a full view of C-UAS providers’ capabilities to understand which systems actually work as marketed!
July 10, 2022
April 25, 2023
About the author
Mary-Lou Smulders is the Chief Marketing Officer at Dedrone, where she leads Dedrone's global marketing and communications team.